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Monday, 20 August 2012
Page: 9211

Ms O'NEILL (Robertson) (21:55): I am always proud to stand in this place and speak about the great investment that this Labor government is delivering in the regions across the country, but nothing gives me more pleasure than the achievements that are being enabled for our local people in the electorate of Robertson. Last Friday I had the pleasure of attending a sod-turning for the southern Central Coast GP superclinic. This is something on which I campaigned strongly at the last election, because it will help ease the difficulty that we have on the coast in accessing a doctor. I am pleased to say that I have delivered on this election promise and it is full steam ahead, with construction located within the Riverside Park precinct at West Gosford.

I commend Dr Rodney Beckwith of Reliance Medical for his work in securing the tender and his commitment to delivering fantastic care services for locals. Reliance Medical is known on the coast for its record of working with local hospitals, GPs and community organisations to bring vital services to residents. I am thrilled that Dr Beckwith will be able to expand his already comprehensive service to include space for another 14 GPs and 30 additional allied health professionals. I met with many of these young health professionals as we turned the sod on Friday afternoon.

Patients at the Gosford GP superclinic will be able to access pathology, pharmacy, and X-ray on site. Gosford is a commuting community, so it is very important that locals will now be able to benefit from the clinic being open seven days a week until 10 pm, offering care from numerous health professionals who are able to work together to improve patient care.

The clinic will also have a strong emphasis on training doctors, medical students and nursing students, and it hopes to expand into training other disciplines as well. One of the great things that Dr Beckwith has been able to achieve is to cement communications and links with our local university, the University of Newcastle. A number of graduates are coming down to do their training with his current practice, which is located at West Gosford.

This GP superclinic will provide an essential element in building a stronger primary health system on the Central Coast, with an emphasis on chronic disease and preventative health care to ensure that problems can be nipped in the bud before they get more serious.

In a further boost to the region, local building and development company the Gibbens Group are driving the Riverside Park development at West Gosford. The Gibbens brothers have turned previously unusable marshland into a thriving commercial zone, already buzzing with growth opportunities. Not only will we have a GP superclinic, but we will also have much needed commercial office space, large-scale retail facilities and other specialty retail which is already in business there, including a range of fast food providers; Boydita Flowers, who are very well regarded in our local area; and a couple of cafes. It is a very popular place for people to go, and now they will be able to go and see their GP there at times that suit them. That is a big transformation in terms of health access for my community. But it does not stop with the GP superclinic in Robertson. We are also benefiting from a $28 million after-hours GP hotline which allows people across the country, no matter where they live or what time it is, to speak to a GP and get practical, immediate assistance without unnecessarily filling up hospital emergency wards.

The Central Coast is also thanking this Labor government for bringing back the Woy Woy Hospital rehab facility. While the state Liberal government promised to bring back this vital and much loved service when they were elected last year, it took a federal Labor government to actually provide the funding to ensure that this dream became a reality. It has been brought back to life now with $21 million invested by the federal Labor government, because we understand that health access is critical in our communities.

Most important for our region is the $28.6 million for a regional cancer centre at Gosford Hospital, which will mean that, for the first time, locals will not have to face the enormous challenge of having to travel to Sydney or Newcastle to access cancer treatment. This will allow patients to be close to family, friends and support networks, not stuck on the F3 or on a train or a shuttle bus to Newcastle or Sydney to get the treatment that they require.

I am very proud of this government and its commitment to make it easier for all Australians to see and contact a doctor to get the help they need. We believe in fairness, and that is what we are delivering to the people of Robertson.